CARLYLE Group, the US private equity firm, has won planning permission from Westminster City Council to convert a former office block in London’s St James’s district into eight super prime apartments.
The news is the latest sign of a resurgence in activity in the conservative upmarket district, which has seen relatively little development over the past few decades compared to other West End postcodes.
It also comes after the Crown Estate last week announced a £320m tie-up with Canada’s Oxford Properties to fund the first phase of a massive overhaul of St James’s Market.
The Grade II-listed building at 88 St James’s Street, was originally built as offices for insurance broker Alliance Assurance Company in 1904, and was acquired by Carlyle last year from the Crown Estate for £36.5m.
The deal marked a rare opportunity for an outside investor to buy into the highly sought after area, which combined with Mayfair commands some of the highest rents in Europe for commercial and residential property.
Knight Frank holds the record for selling in St James’s, with a penthouse selling for £4,452 per square foot in May 2012.
St James’s has been home to aristocracy since King Charles II allowed the park land to be developed in the 1660s. The area is home to hedge-funds and private banks such as Rothschild, the Ritz hotel, and a host of established gentlemen clubs such as Boodles.
Mark Harris, Carlyle’s managing director said: “This is an exciting period for this historic and internationally renowned area and our proposed scheme will create residences befitting this royal part of prime central London.”
Carlyle has hired Caraeno as development manager, whose founder Mark Cherry oversaw the development of The Lancaster’s, the luxury flats near Hyde Park in his former role as director of property firm Minerva.
The pair plan to build flats ranging from 1,000 sq ft to 10,000 sq ft, with work due to start in the autumn.